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Visa and MasterCard Obtain Court Order Against Alleged Pyramid Scheme

December 22, 1992

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Visa International and MasterCard International have won a temporary federal court order to prevent a Southern California firm from using their names to recruit consumers for an alleged pyramid sales scheme.

U.S. District Judge John Vukasin issued the order last Thursday against Platinum Associates Inc. of Agoura Hills, Calif., and its sponsors, Visa said in a press release on Monday.

The credit card companies have accused Platinum of improperly using their trademarks to entice consumers into a nationwide pyramid sales scheme.

Visa in a statement said Platinum promises ″that by paying a modest fee to join, consumers will receive guaranteed, free MasterCard and-or Visa cards, free life insurance and the opportunity to become millionaires by recruiting others to join PAI.″

Platinum Associates is not a member of either the Visa or MasterCard associations and is not an authorized marketing agent of any of the member banks, said Visa spokesman Albert Coscia. Platinum Associates did not deliver any of the credit cards, he said.

Visa and MasterCard have charged Platinum Associates with unfair and deceptive advertising, unlawful business practices, unfair competition and trademark dilution.

Platinum Associates could not be reached for comment late Monday. A recorded message at the company’s office said it had received an order prohibiting any business until a court hearing scheduled Tuesday.

Visa and Mastercard’s lawsuit seeks permanent injunctions against PAI, its sponsors, distributors and associates, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. Cosica said the size of the damages hasn’t been established.

Judge Vukasin said in his ruling that Visa and MasterCard had made a ″strong showing″ that Platinum Associates and its owners infringing on the card companies’ trademarks.

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